Construction work has started on a multi-million pound scheme to build 58 new homes on a former industrial site at the garden village of Port Sunlight.

The development at Wharf Street – a joint scheme between Wirral Council, housing and care provider the Sanctuary Group and construction specialists Seddon – is expected to take around 12 months to complete.

The £6.5m regeneration project will transform former factory land linked to the Lever industrial complex. The new homes will be built in keeping with the architectural style of existing village houses.

The development – part funded by the Homes and Communities Agency - will include 43 two-bedroom and 15 one-bedroom apartments for people aged 55 or over, available on an affordable rental basis.

Council housing chief Cllr George Davies, said: "Having enough appropriate and affordable quality housing across the borough to meet the diverse and changing needs of the community is a priority for Wirral Council and a key objective of our housing strategy for 2011 to 2026.

“This new development, which will provide a large number of affordable rented homes for residents aged over 55, is very significant and it is great to see work begin on site."

David Soothill, Sanctuary’s head of operations said: “The new homes will be designed to complement other buildings in the village, and will make a positive contribution to the wider Port Sunlight Conservation Area.”

The village was created by William Lever in the late 1800s to house workers at his nearby soap works.

It was designated as a conservation area in 1978 and is recognised both locally and further afield as being of major historical significance in terms of its town planning, public buildings - many of which are Grade II listed - and its public spaces.

The scheme will provide job and training opportunities in the local area and will include the creation of new apprenticeships and work experience placements.

To mark the start of building work, Sanctuary invited councillors along to see the site first hand and learn more about the new homes.